Painting an Alla Prima Miniature

In this one off lesson, I will be showing my approach for painting a miniature (part of my own practice). It will be an alla prima piece – which means that I will paint the entire piece from scratch all at once.

Reference Image:


  • Smooth panel or card to paint on
  • Very small paint brushes
  • Mineral spirits
  • Palette cups
  • Palette
  • Oil paints; titanium white, ivory black, burnt umber, cadmium yellow, alizarin crimson, prussian blue


  • Begin by using thinly diluted burnt umber to sketch in the basic shapes of the petals and stem.
  • You can erase and correct using a clean brush dipped in mineral spirits.
  • Then paint in the flower, starting with white and the by using as simple mixtures as possible.
  • Finally, paint in the background and shadow.
  • Once the shadow and background are laid in, you can blend them together to soften the shadow edge.